VFW Post 1513 will be busy in coming months with salutes to veterans, and the all-important North County Veterans Stand Down that will take place early next year.
We recently interviewed Matt Foster, commander of the Escondido-based post that also serves veterans in Valley Center. He talked about the various activities that the post is involved with.
Veterans Resource Fair
The VFW Resource Riot will take place November 9, noon-5 p.m. at Heritage Garden (the big gazebo park at the corner of Grand & Juniper.) “It’s basically a one-day ‘stand down,’ Foster described it. “The whole idea is to create awareness of the services that are available.”
The post is partnering with the Escondido Arts Partnership Municipal Gallery to put on this years’ Veterans Resource Riot. All veterans, active duty, their families and all members of the community are invited for a day of artwork, music, resources.
You do not have to be active duty or a veteran to take advantage of what this event has to offer. There will be family friendly activities, volunteer opportunities and more.
There will be veterans resources, legal services, employment and housing opportunities, art, food and entertainment.
“Veterans’ stories are the same. They are trying to make it on their own after serving where they were part of a military machine” that provided them with backup and resources that they really don’t miss until they are no longer part of that “invisible” machine says Foster.
“This time we are trying to reach the younger veterans who don’t feel they need help,” said Foster. He knows what it’s like to leave the military after many years in the service and then be overwhelmed by the available choices of civilian life. The retired Marine gunnery sergeant observes: “ ‘I’m going to school on the G.I. bill’ is not a good plan by itself.” Although retired military are paid to go to school, they find out that there are gaps in that money in between semesters.
Something like the Resource Riot will offer a menu of services that veterans can take advantage of to help them become successful.
Veterans Day at Wall of Courage
The 13th annual Veterans Day at the Wall of Courage in Escondido’s Grape Day will be held on November 11, 11 a.m.
Emmanuel Faith will perform “Silent Witness” and “God Bless America.” The event is a joint project of the VFW and DAV (Disabled American Veterans.). This upbeat event, which typically attracts 200-300 people is an opportunity to talk about Veterans Day, and what it means. Often attending veterans share stories about their experiences.
The post adopted the Wall of Courage in 2015 and on the first and third Saturday of each month members clean up around the sculpture, knocking away cobwebs, sweeping the area and removing graffiti (with the City’s help.) They have breakfast before at the Golden Egg Omelet House, where they use the time to catch up on what’s going on with the members.
This bronze sculpture was created by local artist Gale Pruitt, who also sculpted the highly recognizable nymph at the entrance to the mall across the street from the arts center.
Pruitt frequently shows up to the commemoration of Veterans Day.
Wreaths Across America
Foster will be the MC at the Wreaths Across America observance at the nearby Valley Center Cemetery on Saturday, December 14, at 9 a.m. This is part of a nationwide observance held at 1,800 cemeteries involving 1,800 wreaths placed in memory of those who served.
North County Veterans Stand Down
Probably the biggest project that the local VFW post will be involved in this year and next is the North County Veterans Stand Down, which will be held February 6-9 at Green Oak Ranch in Vista.
“We do the planning all year round,” Foster told The Times-Advocate. Last year 208 veterans and their families took part, despite the inclement weather at the time. But that also mean that about 80 veterans didn’t show up.
“It’s herding cats,” Foster observed of the planning for the three day event. “This year we are really trying to get the veterans who are a paycheck away from being homeless. Who can’t afford dental or glasses.”
For more information about the local VFW post visit www.vfwpost1513.org.